Huge forest fires on Tenerife were started by arsonists

1st August 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 August 2007, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands - Crews have managed to control two huge forest fires that forced the evacuation of 14,000 people from homes, hotels and camp grounds at one of Europe's top tourist areas, officials in Spain's Canary Islands said Wednesday.

1 August 2007

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands - Crews have managed to control two huge forest fires that forced the evacuation of 14,000 people from homes, hotels and camp grounds at one of Europe's top tourist areas, officials in Spain's Canary Islands said Wednesday.

As Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero arrived here to assess damage from the worst fires to hit the Canary Islands in 50 years, the local government on the island of Tenerife said the blaze here had been deliberately set.

No arrests have been made, the Tenerife government said in a statement.

The other fire, on the island of Gran Canaria, was set by a 37-year-old forest ranger whose job contract was about to run out and who wanted to keep working, police have said, adding that the man has been arrested.

The local government of Tenerife said the fires were brought under control in the morning due in large part to an easing of winds that had gusted at up to 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph) _ and prevented water-dumping helicopters from operating on Tuesday. Crews have also been hampered by extremely hot weather and low humidity.

The blazes have charred a third of Tenerife's forests, forcing the evacuation of 8,800 people and blackening 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of land. At least 900 homes have been destroyed.

On Gran Canaria, officials said most of the fire fronts there have also been brought under control. There, the fire razed 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of land and caused 5,200 people to be evacuated. Most of those evacuated have already started to go back to their homes.

Zapatero had been due to travel to Barcelona Wednesday but instead rushed to Tenerife. He announced an emergency cabinet meeting for Friday _ the government is largely on vacation now _ to approve special aid for the islands.

No one has been injured. The fires have burned inland areas rather than the coastal resorts popular with Europeans seeking sun and sand. But officials said that together, the fires on Tenerife and Gran Canaria have charred more land than any series of infernos in 50 years on this archipelago off the coast of west Africa.

Spanish newspapers have published satellite photos showing huge plumes of white smoke rising from the islands and footage of citizens using tree branches to slap in vain at flames approaching rural roads.

Smaller fires have also been burned on the islands of La Gomera and La Palma. Locals say this was the first time all four of these islands _ out of seven that make up the archipelago _ have been on fire at the same time.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

0 Comments To This Article